By Gary Sheftick, Army News Service
A new application for smartphones allows Soldiers worldwide to visit Army exhibits and watch presentations taking place at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting at the Washington (DC) Convention Center Oct. 10-12.
The Army Exhibit Mobile App helps visitors find what they’re looking for at AUSA’s Annual Meeting and Exposition, and allow those who can’t be there to take a virtual tour.
The app also allows users to watch Secretary of the Army John McHugh, U.S. Army Chief of Staff GEN Raymond T. Odierno, and other senior leaders discuss leading-edge issues facing the Army, such as advancing the network, cyber security, future training, leader development, and more. They can hear Soldiers ask questions and get frank answers from their senior leaders.
“We want to expand the reach beyond the building and beyond the calendar,” said LTC Thomas Smedley, who explained that the presentations and exhibits will be available for viewing on the app not just during the three days of the conference but for months to come.
“You can watch it during halftime at the football game,” Smedley said. “You can watch it at an airport while waiting for a plane,” he added.
“We don’t encourage watching it while driving in traffic,” he joked.
Smedley, Military Deputy for Community Relations and Outreach at U.S. Army Public Affairs, has been working on the app since May. He said it is available for downloading for iPhones and iPads, and his team is working on a version for Droids and BlackBerrys.
The www.army.mil/mobile website has a link to the iTunes App Store and will have a link to the Android Market and the HTML5 BlackBerry site, where the app can be downloaded.
The smartphone application will link to video of the 14 Institute of Land Warfare panels from the AUSA convention. The opening ceremony Oct. 10, where McHugh will give the keynote address, will be available for viewing, as will the Eisenhower Luncheon Oct. 11, where Odierno will speak.
“You can sit and watch the Chief talk about the way ahead,” Smedley said, adding that the presentations will also be useful for unit professional development sessions, such as for NCOs.
“It’s all about avoiding that white piece of paper,” he said, explaining that an interactive application and video are much more exciting than reading a handout.
The app is a partner to the www.army.mil website, which will have the links for viewing live-streaming and archived video on the smartphone, he said.
The four Family Forums at AUSA and the presentations at the Warrior’s Corner, part of the Department of the Army exhibit at Booth 1775 at the center of the exhibit hall, will be available on the app.
Next to Warrior’s Corner will be a theater, playing two films also available on the app: “The Army Profession” and “The Squad: Foundation of the Decisive Force.”
The third zone of the Army exhibit will be an interactive look back over the past 10 years of war and the communications campaigns.
“We’re nested with the communications campaigns,” Smedley said, adding that one of his jobs has been to ensure that the Army’s eight communication priorities resonate throughout the app and the Army’s exhibit.
“We’re pretty excited,” he said. “The app is permeating with our force.” Young Soldiers are used to receiving information digitally through mobile devices, Smedley said; they read books on iPads or Kindles and download technical manuals from the Internet. He predicted that they will be very comfortable with the new app.
“The convenience and portability are very good,” he said.
The app will also include feedback mechanisms, Smedley said. In-app analytics will measure usage and allow Soldiers to rate the exhibits. The app will also allow users to provide both quantitative and qualitative feedback on the communication campaigns.
Soldiers with ideas for making the app even better are invited to submit their suggestions, Smedley said.